NOT many people in Bolton know the name Paul Sinton-Hewitt, but a good number in our town have reason to thank him.

Thirteen years ago this month he and 12 other people got together in Bushy Park in London and ran five kilometres together.

Thirteen years later more than a million people in 18 countries are now doing the same.

About 300 of them will be doing so in Bolton tomorrow as they do every Saturday morning.

Mr Sinton-Hewitt got a CBE a few years ago. He should get a knighthood for me.

A lot of people have had the word 'Sir' put in front of their names just for being part of a sporting team who won a big competition.

Mr Sinton-Hewitt has done something far more impressive than that.

He is the founder of parkrun, an international running institution which has benefited more than a million people worldwide.

He says he wants to help make the world a happier and healthier place. But unlike Miss World contestants' clichéd answer of wanting world peace without doing anything about it, he did something about it.

The numbers are impressive.

In 13 years parkrun has gone from 13 runners in one park to 200,000 runners a week in 1,250 parks around Britain and many more in 17 other countries in five continents.

Here in Bolton it has become part of the town's sport and leisure culture since it started six and a half years ago.

The beauty of it is it is free and organised for you. All you have to do is turn up and run.

The social side is as important as the sporting side for many with lots of friendships built up over the years.

I have partaken more than 260 times at Bolton's Leverhulme Park which is reckoned to be one of the more challenging courses in the country mainly due to the monster climb dubbed Cruella The Hill.

Even now, despite having climbed it more than 500 times, a bit of adrenaline still goes through me when I approach Cruella in the woods.

That's what parkrun does to you. It's as close to an obsession for me as any exercise could be and, listening to the many friends and fellow parkrunners over the years, I'm not on my own.

It's going a bit too far to say it's fun. Anyone who runs what constitutes a long distance for them rarely find it fun.

But the occasion most certainly is enjoyable, thanks to the friendly and supportive organisers and marshals – all volunteers – who ensure you're never more than a couple of minutes away from a word of encouragement.

My favourite moment of the occasion comes after I've finished. Not for the obvious reason that it's over and I've ticked the exercise box, but for what I watch for the next 10 or 15 minutes.

People run onto the track at Bolton Harriers to finish the course and the sense of achievement and satisfaction written all over them is what parkrun is all about.

Most of these people would never run if it wasn't for parkrun. They do so because of it, and therefore because of Paul Sinton-Hewitt.

Well done sir!